My Abrome day on Tuesday, day 107 of our pandacademic year, started out with a call with a parent on my drive to the drop off location that morning. The parent’s Learner is out this week for quarantine, so we talked about the specifics of the quarantine but we also talked about future options for the Learner. It was a nice conversation that ended just as I pulled into the parking lot where I was going to leave my vehicle for the day. There I met up with Facilitator Ariel and we discussed the tension that exists in society between those who want to pretend the pandemic is over, and those who recognize that it is too early to stop engaging in practices that will protect others and prevent the continued spread of Covid-19. It has really knotted me up seeing so many people demanding that schools, restaurants, and bars reopen, while people are eagerly ditching their masks indoors where people congregate. The bar for what we can do as a society to protect one another is so low, yet it seems as if a shrinking segment of the population is willing to clear it each successive day, and even fewer institutions are willing to step over the bar. Sometimes it seems like we live in a different reality than others. With 60,000 people still being infected every day, we will continue to place community over convenience, and people over profits.

On this day I was leading the morning meeting. One of the Learners volunteered to serve as game master, which has become a pretty limited outdoors this year. Without a gameshifting board we don’t touch upon intentions of the meetings, start times, end times, etc. We usually just include how are bodies are to be used and how we are to interact. The Learner on this day said sit or stand, and popcorn. The prompts were, what can you do to respect others, and what is the social justice issue you are most interested in pursuing this cycle? The responses to the second prompt were really great because it gave us some direction in how we might approach the rest of the week: racism, needs of the houseless population, litter, cash bail, childism and adultism. We then discussed all the walking we did yesterday, and the Facilitators and a Learner decided that it would be a good idea to start our day with stretches. We found a grassy area and followed Facilitator Ariel’s lead. Eventually the other Learners joined in on the stretching.

We then took off walking. No one had any stated preferences for which direction to head, so we decided to slowly make our way downtown. At one point a Learner decided that Trader Joe’s was where he wanted to go so that he could get another box of jelly beans. No one objected so we made our way to the pedestrian bridge where we noticed that the rain the prior night washed away our chalk messages that we laid down the day before. We also observed some people jumping into the lake from the bridge. As we continued we walked by a coffee shop that allowed people to order and pick up their coffee entirely outside. Facilitator Ariel picked up a coffee, and another Learner asked about the food offerings they had. When the barista was listing off the pastries that were available, the Learner said, “are they organic?” The barista could not confirm they were, so he decided to pass.

When we got to Trader Joe’s the Learner picked up his box of jelly beans, while another Learner hovered around him hoping that the Learner would buy him a chocolate bar (didn’t happen), and then we all met back up on the turf in front of the grocery store. At that moment there was differing opinions on what we should do next. Some people just wanted to relax, one Learner wanted to go looking for a food truck that they could get a hot lunch at, and the Learner with the jelly beans wanted to sit down and eat them right there. After sharing our needs and wants it became pretty apparent that the only option was to venture out to support the Learner who wanted to get some lunch.

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We made our way northeast and stumbled upon Republic Square outside the US Federal Courthouse. There the Learners and Facilitator Ariel lined up at Salt & Thyme and reviewed their options. The Learner who was looking for lunch got a sandwich, as did Facilitator Ariel. One of the Learners kept asking others if they would be willing to get him some ice cream, or if they would be willing to loan him money. When that failed he would just state out loud how much he wish he could eat ice cream. His hyper-focus on food and drink that day and the day before has been a lot, and he has received that feedback from others. Eventually Facilitator Ariel and the Learner’s food was ready and they moved out to a spot that would allow them to take off their masks to eat. The Learner who was asking for food and money just stared at the ice cream that Facilitator Ariel bought. Facilitator Ariel then turned to him, and said that he bought the ice cream for the Learner, but only under the condition that he never ask him for money for food again. The Learner eagerly agreed.


When a younger Learner saw that another Learner had some ice cream, he decided that he also wanted some ice cream. He needed to have me purchase his food for him since I was sent the money via Venmo from his parents at the beginning of the week. I asked him to let me finish eating my bagged lunch that I brought with me that day, then walked over and paid for the ice cream cup that he wanted to eat. It was a pretty expensive cup of ice cream, and by this time everyone in the group had finished eating. We waited, and then watched a handful of unmasked kids from a very expensive private school come into the park to play a game of touch football. While the Learners and Facilitator Ariel were in conversation I continued to watch the private school kids playing football, and I thought about how different their experiences had been during this pandemic than Abrome kids, and public school kids.


Everyone in our group had been ready to go for quite some time waiting for the younger Learner to finish his ice cream when he approached me and told me that he wanted another cup of ice cream. At that point I told him that we had all been waiting for him and were all ready to go. The Learner was insistent that we wait for him to buy and eat another cup of ice cream, and everyone else in the group indicated that they were really not wanting to stay in the park even longer than they had already been. We talked about the needs and the wants of each individual in the group and we said we really needed to get going if we were going to meet the needs and wants of the others in the group who had followed along with the food oriented requests of the other Learners that day. The Learner agreed to move on although he was unhappy to be leaving without another cup of ice cream.


We made our way toward Austin City Hall, which I pointed out to them, and then asked them what (if any) types of issues would they show up there for a protest. As we continued to walk we talked about the impact of protest versus other forms of engaging with issues, such as direct action. Then we made our way onto the First Street Bridge, and then under the bridge after we crossed over Town Lake. After a brief break to catch our breath we continued along the hike and bike trail back toward the Zilker Park where we would settle in for the rest of the afternoon. During the walk three folks decided to take their shoes off and enjoy the feeling of their feet on the earth.

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When we got to Zilker Park I asked if anyone needed to refill their water bottle. Unfortunately, only one other Learner needed to, which highlighted that we were not drinking enough water. I wrote a note to myself to bring up the hydration concern at the end of the week Check-in and Change-up meetings. After I returned with a full water bottle I found two Learners sketching in the park. I broke out a book and began to read, while Facilitator Ariel tried coaxing a Learner to get up and move around after he had complained that he was bored. I offered the Learner some books to read, and some art supplies to play with, but he said he just wanted to go home. Eventually Facilitator Ariel got him to stand up and do some partner stretches with him. We all observed some people doing a very slow moving but intense workout with what looked like a weighted bar with a ball on the end. When one of them walked by our group at the end of his workout I stopped him and asked him what he was up to. He said that the bar was a steel mace and the movements they were doing is called steel mace flow. He was super enthusiastic about sharing it and told us to consider getting involved in it ourselves.

We held our afternoon roundup in the park, during which Facilitator Ariel sparked a conversation about labels and what labels each of us are comfortable and uncomfortable with. Then he asked if we were willing to act upon a Learner’s concern about litter by having a trash pickup day on Wednesday, and a bike day on Friday. Three of us eagerly opted into the trash pickup, and surprisingly the two Learners who were concerned about litter or the environment said they didn’t want to. I offered to bring trash bags and gloves, as it seemed that they were not wanting to touch the garbage directly, and I highlighted that it would not take up the entire day, but a portion of the day. They then said they would participate! Three of them also said they would like to bring their bikes on Friday.


The other cell had a relaxed and joyful day. There was lots of time spent hanging out on the dock, playing in the water, painting and playing the cougar stalks deer game. They also debated whether boars or mountain lions were more dangerous. They were going to play soccer but the sun was too intense when they were ready to play so they decided to hold off for another day. Here are some pictures and videos from that cell.